Gestational Weight Gain and Pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index Associated With Second-Generation Antipsychotic Drug Use During Pregnancy

Psychosomatics. 2018 Mar-Apr;59(2):125-134. doi: 10.1016/j.psym.2017.09.002. Epub 2017 Sep 21.


Background: Obesity during pregnancy is the most common high-risk obstetric condition, resulting in increased rates of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. Individuals with psychiatric disorders have a higher risk of obesity than the general population, but data regarding implications of obesity in women with psychiatric disorders are sparse.

Objective: The objective of this study was to assess pre-pregnancy weights and gestational weight gain in women who were exposed to second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) during pregnancy compared to controls.

Methods: We assessed pre-pregnancy weights and gestational weight gain from the Massachusetts General Hospital National Pregnancy Registry for Atypical Antipsychotics for patients exposed to SGAs and controls unexposed to these medicines during pregnancy. Both groups experienced similar psychiatric morbidity.

Results: A total of 403 participants had evaluable data for these analyses (N = 279 exposed to SGAs; N = 124 controls). The mean pre-pregnancy weight, body mass index (BMI), and likelihood to begin pregnancy with an obese BMI were significantly higher in the exposed group compared to controls (p = 0.0003, p < 0.0001, and p < 0.0001 respectively), as were the mean weight and BMI at delivery (p < 0.0001). The mean weight gain did not differ significantly between groups. Across pre-pregnancy BMI categories, both groups gained more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy.

Conclusion: We found that women exposed to SGAs began pregnancy with higher BMIs than controls. Both exposed and unexposed groups experienced similar weight gain during pregnancy. Strategies are needed to prevent excessive gestational weight gain and to reduce pre-pregnancy obesity in women with psychiatric disorders, especially those treated with SGAs.

Keywords: bipolar disorder; mood disorders; obesity; pregnancy; psychopharmacology; schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Gestational Weight Gain / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Young Adult


  • Antipsychotic Agents